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If you're from the Western culture, it might be that this is your first time hearing about the herb Shiso (or Perilla). But in the Asian (and especially Japanese and Korean) cuisine, Shiso is THE THING - it's being used as a sushi wrap, an ingredient in soups, rice, seafood, meat and vegetable dishes, as a spice, as a dye, and even as an oil.
While the green variety of the Shiso plant is much better known than the red one, the latter holds incredibly potent antioxidant and antiviral properties due to the powerful anthocyanin pigments found in its red-purple leaves. Besides that, it will also supplement your diet with additional Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids, as well as calcium, potassium, iron, and vitamins A, B2 and C.
We'd describe it as something between grapes, peppermint, and basil, with hints of cinnamon and anise - it's really something out of this world; you should definitely include it in your next indoor garden capsule order! Following are some of our favorite ways to prepare it.
This crystal clear ruby drink is probably the most popular use of Red Shiso abroad, and one of the easiest ways for us Westerners to include this glorious plant into our diets. We've shared the purest and the most "real" Red Shiso juice recipe here - serve it with ice, and it's going to become one of your go-to refreshments for hot summer days.
Dry a leafy stalk of Red Shiso, pop it in a mug and cover with boiling water. Let it steep until the tea acquires the plant's typical deep ruby color, and enjoy! You can use fresh Red Shiso as well, but we find that the color is not as intense and the flavor - not as potent. This is going to be great during autumn and winter due to its cough relieving and antibacterial properties. And just the color itself makes you a tad bit happier doesn't it?
Another potential summer favorite - naturally sweet, but not in an overpowering way, with the color resembling the juicy blackcurrant. Plums and Red Shiso are a bomb combo, so we would strongly advise you to start your prep for this recipe by planting Red Shiso in your indoor garden.
What you need: 1lb (4 cups) of ripe Santa Rosa plums, pitted and cut into eights, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, 2-3 tbsp. fresh Red Shiso leaves. Sounds simple, right? Well, it is - find the recipe here.
Red Shiso is the key ingredient in the traditional pickle brine recipes of all master Japanese chefs, mothers and grandmothers. The pickled pink ginger lying next to your sushi platter? If it's not dyed with artificial colorants or pickled the traditional Japanese way, the good old Red Shiso leaf is responsible for that pink hue. Also the popular Japanese umeboshi that's basically a dish made for the American "trying weird Japanese foods" Youtube videos? That's plums, pickled in...yeah, you guessed it - Red Shiso. You can also pickle ginger in the umeboshi brine! Red Shiso is also used for pickling cucumbers, eggplant, cabbage, radishes, and other vegetables - basically anything that turns out red after pickling, has Red Shiso in the brine. You can read more about the Japanese pickled foods here.
Yes, yes, pesto isn't reserved only for basil and arugula! Larry had a Red Shiso plant he didn't know what to use for, so after some experimenting with classical pesto ingredients and this alien of herbs, the result "turned out awesome, and this is coming from a guy who's usually underwhelmed by pesto. It was a hit at dinner." Find the recipe here.
As you will soon realize, Red Shiso is not an easy thing to find in most supermarkets, health stores and farmers markets, and is rather difficult to grow. Since its uses, flavor and properties are something everyone should be able to benefit from, we've added it to our plant capsule selection, so you can grow it in your indoor garden with no effort whatsoever - all you have to do now is to decide on how you're going to use it!
Have you ever tried Red Shiso? What are your favorite Red Shiso recipes? Let us know in the comments below or raise a discussion on our community forum!